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Where to Cool off During Europe’s Record-Breaking Heat Wave

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Paris is just one of the major cities in western Europe experiencing a heat wave this summer.

Photo by Guillaume Destombes/Shutterstock

Paris is just one of the major cities in western Europe experiencing a heat wave this summer.

Everywhere from London to Athens has been experiencing unbearable summer weather. Here’s where to escape the heat in some of Europe’s major cities.

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A brutal heat wave is happening across Europe right now and it’s having devastating consequences. On Monday, July 23, a wildfire in Greece outside of Athens claimed the lives of 87 people, while more than 50 wildfires have burned through Sweden in July, some of them as far north as Gotland, above the Arctic Circle.

While your travel insurance may not cover wildfire-related events or delays caused by heat, if you find yourself sweating it out in one of western Europe’s capitals this summer, take your cues from locals who may be more used to this weather.

Wake up early to explore, take a siesta during the hottest midday hours, and book a late-night dinner when the city cools off again. If you must go out during the day, here are a few of our recommendations for the best air-conditioned museums, naturally cool underground attractions, and pools with spectacular views in several cities affected by the heat wave.


On Thursday, July 26, temperatures reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit in London at Heathrow Airport, breaking this year’s previous record of 94.1 degrees from June 21. Although thunderstorms will bring a brief respite to the hot weather this weekend, the heat wave is expected to continue through August.

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If you’re traveling through London in the coming weeks, cool off and immerse yourself in art at Jeppe Hein’s Appearing Rooms Fountain (pictured above), which creates temporary “rooms” by shooting jets of water into the air. The pop-up fountain is located at the Southbank Centre until September 9, 2018.

Want to avoid the sun altogether? Head underground to the Churchill War Rooms, where you can explore the bunker where Winston Churchill and his war cabinet carried out their plans during World War II.


A post shared by Jeremy (@westskye) on Jul 18, 2018 at 5:47am PDT


You can also head underground to avoid the 98-degree temperatures in Paris this week at the Catacombs. The labyrinth of tunnels below Paris filled with the skeletal remains of around seven million people is naturally about 57 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Catacombs website.

If that’s too macabre, go swimming on a barge on the Seine River at Piscine Josephine Baker, which costs less than $10 for a two-hour pass. You can also consult the free app, EXTREMA Paris, which provides locations to 800 different places across the city where you can escape the heat, including cool churches, museums with air-conditioning, and shady parks.


As temperatures broke 104 degrees in Athens this week, officials decided to close the Acropolis—one of the city’s main attractions—in the early afternoon on both Sunday and Monday to protect both visitors and staff from the effects of heatstroke.

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While temperatures will hover in the high 80s and low 90s for the foreseeable future, you can still visit the air-conditioned Acropolis Museum if the archeological site closes. Now might be the time to schedule an afternoon dip at a rooftop pool like the one at the Electra Palace Hotel (pictured above) into your itinerary.


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While you typically wouldn’t go see a movie abroad, when it gets as hot as 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Berlin, as it did this week, you’ll want to consider hiding out in the air-conditioned Kino International Theater. Built in the early 1960s, this building is a landmark in and of itself and also shows a mix of Hollywood and German movies. It’s worth stopping by, if even just for a drink in the Panorama bar (pictured above) in the lobby.

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